This week there have been so many Covid-19 early year headlines, many of them conflicting. Here is a sample.
- “Omicron will infect 50% of Europe in 2 months”
- “Covid loses ability to infect after 5 minutes in the air”
- “Make vaccination compulsory”
- “End mass jabs; learn to live with Covid’
Rather than adding to any speculation, below are some substantiated Covid developments.
Two new variants have been reported in the last week. In France, a variant known as IHU has been linked to travel from Cameroon. In Cyprus, there has been some dispute about a report by the University of Cyprus of the nature of a new Covid strain on the island. World health experts (WHO) says that it is too early to be concerned about either at the moment.
A Danish study has found that the Omicron variant spreads quickly because it evaded the immunity created by vaccines. Scientists there say: “findings confirm that the rapid spread of Omicron can be attributed to immune evasiveness rather than an inherent increase in the basic transmissibility.”
Despite its ability to spread at pace, Omicron does appear to have a milder impact, at least for the vaccinated and those who have received the booster jab.
What about long Covid?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “Long Covid can occur in anyone who has had Covid-19, even if their illness was mild, or if they had no symptoms. Even in mild cases, many Covid patients suffer from long-term residual symptoms. Despite Omicron’s milder impacts, there is no reason to consider that it will not cause long Covid conditions.”
The latest Office of National Statistics data show that booster jabs are 90% effective in preventing hospital admission by those over 65s infected by the Omicron variant.
Last week, the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said there would have to be swift action if data showed a drop off in immunity against severe disease for the elderly: “But at the moment all the signs are good, what is not sustainable in the long term is a vaccine programme that delivers a vaccine every three months. He said it was important to get the timing right for any potential fourth dose of a vaccine for vulnerable people, which may be later in the year… we just don’t think it’s the right time at the moment,”
Meanwhile, some experts argue that patients with impaired immune systems are probably going to need a fourth jab, rather than three. Others believe that the focus should be on delivering the third dose to as many people as possible to boost protection.
The government is encouraging pregnant women to get a Covid jab or booster. The UK obstetrics surveillance system reports that more than 96% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms between May and October last year were unvaccinated. The government has said that the vaccine is safe and has no impact on fertility. For those with concerns please book into the Rye centre and discuss with our clinical lead.
Rye Vaccination Centre @ryepfizer is led by Clarity Chemists and supported by community volunteers.
Testing rules in England
Covid asymptomatic people who get positive lateral flow test results no longer need to get a confirmatory PCR from this week in England. The government says that while Covid rates are high across the country, the vast majority of people with positive lateral flow results can be confident they are infected and should then follow the isolation rules. The latest changes do tend to add complexity to the testing regime. An explanation of the changes can be found here.
Image Credits: TheDigitalArtist / Pixabay https://pixabay.com/illustrations/covid-19-virus-coronavirus-pandemic-4960254/.